After long espousing the benefits of mobility, Fifth Quadrant has rolled out a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) plan for its own management consulting business.
Embracing mobility and BYOD is “very on-brand” for Fifth Quadrant, which has done market research showing business benefits of these trends, according to the company's managing director, Catriona Wallace.
Fifth Quadrant is a medium-sized business with 70 to 100 employees, either full-time or casual, and many work in the field using laptops, tablets and smartphones. Going mobile has been a strategic imperative for the past 12 months, and the company launched a BYOD program about six months ago.
“When we go into our clients and they [have] notepads, paper and pencil and my guys are all equipped with their devices and communicating through mobility, then that’s extremely good for our brand.”
Fifth Quadrant is saving money with the BYOD program, too, said Wallace. Staff are more productive, use less paper and don’t come to the office as frequently, resulting in efficiencies for the business and a reduced carbon footprint, she said.
In addition, Wallace believes staff are happier and more engaged with BYOD “because they are now more equipped and capable to do their jobs in an easier way,” she said.
“Often as the CEO I’ve got no real idea where the staff are, and that’s perfectly fine,” she said.
“I know that I will eventually locate them somewhere during the day because they will use a mobile device to make contact.”
Before the mobility initiative, the business only issued each staff member a desktop computer for the office; they would use their own laptop at home, Wallace said.
Now, under the BYOD program, the business pays for mobile devices and services for senior staff. The rest of the staff can also participate in BYOD, but the business covers only the cost of mobile services used for work, and not the device itself.
The business does not insist on any one type of device, said Wallace. Most employees are using Apple devices for work, said Wallace, but an increasing number of employees are using Google Android devices from Samsung, she said.
Wallace added that she hasn’t seen any employees using Microsoft Windows or BlackBerry devices. “We definitely almost laugh when we see people using BlackBerry at our clients, and people sort of hide them away, just awkward that it’s so 1990s.”
The mobility initiative required enhancements to IT security, Wallace said. “We’ve just done a major review of all our IT and systems protocols—security, confidentiality—and built in new security mechanisms.”
However, Wallace said she was “not overly” concerned about creating security vulnerabilities with the move to BYOD. Based on her company’s own market research, Wallace said she knew “that actually there’s a very low percentage of cases where things go wrong or there is a breach of confidentiality or security.”
In addition, she said she was confident staff had adequate training to ensure the company’s security.
Fifth Quadrant does not manage mobile apps and users are free to put whatever apps they want on their devices, Wallace said. “I’m very open around that — not a problem for me at all.”
Fifth Quadrant is currently looking into how to erase data in the case of a lost or stolen device, said Wallace. “At this stage, we don’t have that capability.”
Wallace advised businesses to treat mobility as a strategy and to keep staff engaged in the process.
“Ours was a considered strategy and we had all the staff involved in understanding what that strategy was,” she said. “I made sure that the staff knew how it would benefit them individually in their jobs before we did anything else.”
Training and support for staff is critical to making the transition, she said. “Don’t just give people devices and tell them to download apps.”
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